College student Frances Sheinberg harnesses her musical talent to communicate with her peers.
By Frances Sheinberg
As a young woman on the autism spectrum, I have learned that communication is vital for my well-being. I have also learned that communication comes in many forms.
Growing up, communicating with the people around me was always a challenge, and sometimes it still is. When I get upset, I have trouble explaining what is wrong. When I meet new people, sometimes they are taken aback and even offended by my behavior. It is hard for me to understand what is appropriate to say, when it is appropriate to say things and who I should or shouldn’t say certain things to. My brain blurs out social-boundary lines that exist and sometimes I accidentally cross into other people’s boundaries and usually it results in conflict.
However, I love people more than anything and as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned ways that I can communicate my love to people. Even though I am on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum and am highly verbal, it is still easier for me to communicate to people through writing. Communicating through writing involves more than just pen and paper. There are many ways to write what is on your mind. People write stories, poems, songs and more.
When I was in high school, I developed a love for writing rap songs. I don’t write rap songs like the ones on the radio with profane words. Rather, I write raps about self-love, staying optimistic and why it is good to just be yourself. I believe everyone is an amazing person, and when I rap for people, my lyrics convey that message. Being able to communicate through rap to my friends, my loved ones and even people I meet out and about has better enabled me to form relationships with people. It has also helped people better understand me and my intentions.
For me, rap is like a translator. It takes my emotions, feelings and ideas, and creates a way for others to understand them. Through writing raps and showing them to others, I have allowed people to enter into my world. It is a world full of color, imagination, hope and love.
I plan to continue sharing my world through rap as I get older. As a college student, I am around people every day. Some people know me and understand me, but many do not. Rap has helped break down the social language barrier between me and the other people at my school, and allowed me to really connect with the Greek life at my school. I write and perform raps at all the Greek events.
My main focus is my philanthropy work in the community, and I have made connections with many organizations regarding how I can help them through my raps. I rapped at the sorority Delta Gamma’s 5K race event that was raising money for the organization Service for Sight. I’ve also rapped at a basketball tournament benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Each semester, I host my annual Fran’s Lemonade Stand, where I sell lemonade and donate all the money to various causes and organizations. One of the attractions at my lemonade stand is my rapping.
I love it when people come watch my performances and I really love it when they listen to the lyrics and take in the uplifting messages in the words. I truly love communicating positive messages by performing my raps and hope to continue doing so. When organizations ask me to rap at their events, I am always thrilled. Even if their event isn’t raising money or awareness for a cause, I still am eager to rap, just to spread love.
With my philanthropy work, my raps and the connections and bonds I’ve formed, I hope that I can one day bring people together and teach them to love one another and themselves just the way they are.
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